By Jack Thomason–
(CBS) We’re always attempting to stash the best players with the highest ceiling or fill a need on the waiver wire, but what about teams getting ready for the playoffs? Is it worth thinking about defensive units and matchups? I believe so, to a degree. With most leagues having limited roster space, it’s really challenging to hold onto two or even three defenses to play the matchup game. Doing so means you’re losing out on a potential high-ceiling player or a handcuff for your RB1/2, and the benefit you think you’re getting doesn’t always pay off with defense.
If there’s a team with a solid playoff schedule and you have an open roster spot, sure, add it — but I wouldn’t bend over backward to make it happen or pass up a better positional player. Defense is like quarterback and tight end, as you can stream on a weekly basis and still maintain a solid average over the course of a season. There are only so many running backs and receivers who can make a difference for your team, and you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of the player against a second defense.
Here are my top 10 waiver adds for 10- and 12-member leagues:
1. Tyreek Hill (WR, Kansas City Chiefs) — Wow, did you see his game Sunday night? Hill was the most explosive player on the field, scoring a touchdown via the air, ground and return game. It’s the first time its been done by a rookie since Gale Sayers. With Jeremy Maclin continuing to struggle to regain health, Hill has stepped up and provided this offense with some juice it has sorely lacked. Hill has nine or more receptions in two of his last three games and since Week 9 has played at least 58 percent of the snaps, topping out at 68 percent the last two weeks.
2. Malcolm Mitchell (WR, New England Patriots) — Over the last two games, Mitchell has racked up 140 yards, nine receptions and three touchdowns on 12 targets. While he only played 47 percent of the snaps, his play is garnering an increased workload, and the Patriots may not be able to keep him off the field. He also gives Tom Brady a bigger-bodied receiver to stretch the field and look for in the red zone on the perimeter.
3. Dion Lewis (RB, New England Patriots) — Lewis continues to show the elusiveness and sudden moves that made him a fantasy star last year. He totaled 58 yards on 10 touches and saw seven targets this past week game. His snap percentage increased to 32 percent, and he should continue to see more work going forward. When he’s on the field, he’s getting the touches. It’s only a matter of time before he pops, and his upside presents RB1 status, especially in PPR leagues.
4. Colin Kaepernick (QB, San Francisco 49ers) — You’re only adding Kaepernick if you have a borderline QB1 or if you want to play keep away from an opponent for the playoffs. He deserves his credit though, as he has been playing well. Kaepernick has averaged 62 yards rushing since taking over as the starter and in last four weeks averaged 277 yards through the air and accounted for 2.3 touchdowns per game. He has been a difference-maker.
5. Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, Philadelphia Eagles) — Jordan Matthews left twice with a right ankle injury in Monday night’s game. It will remain to be seen whether it’s going to have a lingering effect on his ability to play. Couple that with Nelson Agholor’s drops and terrible play, and you have a recipe for the raw-but-talented Green-Beckman to lead the Eagles receiving core. He did so Monday, piling up 10 targets, recording six receptions for 82 yards. Keep an eye on the situation moving forward as Green-Beckham was already seeing a lot of red-zone targets.
6. Tyler Boyd/Bandon LaFell (WR, Cincinnati Bengals) — At this point in the season, ceiling is paramount, but if you’re struggling at a WR3 position or flex spot, these two may do you some good. Both receivers saw nine targets last week, tied for second on the team to Tyler Eifert, and the Bengals defense hasn’t been doing much to allow the offense to play with a lead. If I had to pick the guy with a higher ceiling, Boyd would be the one.
7. Kenneth Dixon (RB, Baltimore Ravens) — Dixon and Terrance West continue to split the workload. Dixon saw 17 touches and slashed his way to 80 yards, while West tallied 64 yards on 16 touches. Dixon is a player you want rostered not only because of his dual-threat ability but because of his upside if anything happens to West. He has RB3/flex appeal now and would be a volume RB2 if he locks up the backfield for any reason.
8. Marqise Lee (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars) — Lee isn’t getting much respect judging by his ownership levels, but he continues to produce on a weekly basis. Over the last month, he’s seen seven targets a game and has caught four balls in every one of them. Lee has also failed to hit 50 yards receiving just twice in the last seven games and has scored two touchdowns the last two weeks. The Jaguars are often trailing, and Blake Bortles is known as the garbage-time king.
9. Taylor Gabriel (WR, Atlanta Falcons) — Make it four straight weeks that Gabriel has found a way into the end zone. Much like Hill, Gabriel is bringing an explosive element to the Falcons’ offense. He has found ways to score via the running and passing game and has now scored five times in the last four games. Gabriel has also seen five targets in each of the last three weeks. If you’re in need of that high ceiling flex/WR3, you could do a lot worse than him.
10. Vernon Davis (TE, Washington Redskins) — Oh the joy of the tight end position! It’s been pretty rough this year; even the top players are battling slow weeks and injuries. We saw Davis step up and be productive the last time Jordan Reed missed games, and there’s a possibility he’s set to miss more with a shoulder injury. Even with Reed producing at a high level last week, Davis still tallied seven targets and turned them into five catches and 68 yards. There’s plenty of TE1 weeks in sight with the way Kirk Cousins is rolling along, for as long as Reed is out.
Just missed: All stud running back handcuffs, Denard Robinson, Akeem Hunt, Rex Burkhead, Quincy Enunwa, Marquess Wilson, Pierre Garcon, Adam Thielen, Josh Hill and C.J. Fiedorowicz.
Jack Thomason is 670 The Score’s fantasy football expert and co-host of “Chicago’s Fantasy Football Today,” which can be heard every Sunday during football season from 8-9 a.m. CT on WSCR-670 and 670thescore.com/listen. Follow him on Twitter @jthomason77 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.